We booked a week's holiday at The Residence on a Secret Escape discount deal and were really impressed. We've visited the Maldives twice before over the past 10 years (Kuramathi and Moofushi) and had wonderful holidays on both those other islands, but this resort was up there with them. We were attracted to the fact that the deal included an over-water bungalow, and half board, and that there was access to a house reef, as we love to snorkel.
Our water villa number 316 was amazing - a lounge with complementary fruit and sweets, large bedroom with bed view straight out across the lagoon to the reef, huge bathroom with bath for 2 and 2 sinks, and then a separate shower from which there was also a second outdoor shower. There was also plenty of storage with 2 wardrobes in the bedroom and copious numbers of high quality towels and beach towels. Perfect. We didn't opt for a pool villa, and with that wonderful lagoon out front there was no need for it.
Our water villa was in the middle of the southern boardwalk of water villas and faced the sunset and house reef. This seemed like the best location as some other guests we met were envious, mentioning that the sea was very noisy on the north side of the island, and also that the sea was too shallow to swim. They are also currently building a long bridge to the next island, and these northerly villas are close to the start of these works so the view is less than perfect at the moment.
Each villa comes with 2 bikes which although somewhat basic and heavy, are perfect for a leisurely ride down the island, and to and from the various facilities, though its only a 10 min walk down to the dining room along the same sand track. If you don't want to cycle or walk, you can call for an electric golf buggy and they will quickly collect you.
The half board included breakfast and evening meal. Breakfast was a wide ranging buffet, with traditional hot English breakfast items including eggs or omelettes cooked to order, to Indian curries and noodle dishes, then sushi, salad and meats and cheeses, plus pastries and various breads, pancakes, porridge, juices, etc etc! All very tasty and fresh. We then managed most days to last through to the evening, where again there was an excellent buffet. This was themed, and we enjoyed Indian, Asian and Japanese nights particularly. Alternatively there is an a la carte menu if you ask.
Otherwise, you can book the Falhumaa restaurant, perched out over the water at the end of a jetty. This is an additional cost, although you do get a certain value discounted from your meal here. We found the atmosphere there a little sterile and although the food was very good and attractively presented it was still very expensive.
Another option is the Sunset Grill next to the bar which on certain nights has a seafood evening and BBQ. This was excellent - good value for the range of seafood offered which included lobster, crab, prawns and mussels as well as a number of meat options, and it was lovely to dine on the beach.
At lunchtime, if you are peckish, there is a long menu available at the pool bar which interesting dishes and we ate here a couple of times.
Having visited the Maldives previously, we were aware of the high price of food and drink. However it seemed particularly excessive this time, perhaps because of the current poor exchange rate of the pound to the dollar. However we found the price of a basic bottle of wine prohibitive (around 55 dollars before tax) so ended up buying a bottle for our minibar and just having a glass at sunset. Cocktails were around 20 dollars each so we limited ourselves. Suggest if you enjoy drinking that you enquire about a drinks plan, as when we were leaving another couple told us they'd asked about this and they'd signed up. Although not publicised by the resort it seemed more economical if you are likely to have at least 4 drinks a day each. We did feel the resort could to more in this area, such as a happy hour at the bar - this would encourage more socialising and probably bring in more income to them overall. We were also surprised, given the price of trips, that we had to purchase the soft drinks and beer on offer on the sunset cruise - it wouldn't take much to include a couple of drinks in the package.
Back to the positives - the island is attractive, with a lovely jungly interior where fruit bats come in each evening to roost. The turquoise seas are beautifully warm and teaming with sealife. We saw rays and turtles most days from our villa decking, and also dolphins in the distance past the reef on 3 days (but sadly not on the dolphin spotting sunset cruise!). The snorkelling was brilliant - very clear water, plus some interesting coral although like most places these days, there is a problem with bleaching. There is also a vast variety of fish and the odd reef shark for added interest! So do take an underwater camera if you can - a few pics attached.
The Spa was very nice - we had a couples complementary neck and shoulder massage in our package, which was rather robust but good! This kept us entertained on the one wet day.
Service at the resort generally is excellent and all staff are very friendly and welcoming from grounds staff to management. The only slight negative was the bit of a struggle we had getting tea and coffee delivered each morning at breakfast - they would ask what we wanted as we sat down but sometimes it would not arrive, and other times we would be looking for refills but be unable to get attention. Can we suggest that they arrange for a dedicated tea and coffee person who circulates offering refills in order to aid this process. I note a previous reviewer had the same issue.
We would highly recommend this resort to anyone looking for a week of relaxation and luxury in a beautiful environment.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Residence Maldives is a world away from reality. This private island resort is anchored in one of the planet’s widest and deepest atolls, its sugary white sands lapped by sapphire blue waters, its pristine reefs the exclusive playground of its privileged guests. All 94 luxury villas lie on the beach or over the water, their traditional Maldivian architecture enhanced by anything from dedicated butlers to private pools. Dining is an international affair overlooking the Indian Ocean, The Spa by Clarins the only one you’ll find in the entire Maldives archipelago ... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Residence Maldives Falhumaafushi